Taste of Wine: Here & there in pursuit of fine wines in fine places

Taste of Wine: Here & there in pursuit of fine wines in fine places
Nick and Cindy Palombo with a new release Sangiovese wine, part of the San Diego County Restaurant week kickoff. Photo by Frank Mangio

Restaurant Week had a good run in September. More than 100 restaurants collaborated in San Diego County, to offer some of the best discounts seen in a while for this promotion.

The event was kicked off in the friendly coastal town of Encinitas at the exciting Go Green Agriculture facility where the highest quality and healthiest produce is grown and shipped.

A number of San Diego County wines were invited to pour their best for the assembled guests on a very hot afternoon, but the mood was good for the food and wine tasting.  Fallbrook Winery showed up, plus Briar Rose and Palumbo Winery from Temecula were among the bottle-poppers.

I was happy to see Cindy and Nick Palumbo and they did not disappoint when they brought their new-release Sangiovese with them.  Theirs is a premium estate wine with a small-lot handcrafted style.  Their 13 acres are planted for Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sangiovese.  A neighboring lot allows them to offer Viognier and Syrah.

“I insist on only producing what I grow and keep my yields low.  I live on the property and insist on sustainable farming practices.” Palumbo said.  Learn more at palumbofamilyvineyards.com.

Palomar College in thriving San Marcos is the higher educational elder in this market.

I studied there as most students in North San Diego County did, to get a two-year degree, then on to a four-year institution.  It was a feel-good experience to attend Palomar Foundation’s 24th annual fundraising Gala for the scholarships and textbook assistance program, at the La Costa Resort.  The program was upbeat and an inspiration for the college’s future.

Featured attendees at the recent Palomar College Gala are: Robert Wetsfall, CEO Solartube, Debbie King, assistant director Palomar College Foundation and Rick Cassoni, professor MiraCosta College. Photo by Frank Mangio

Featured attendees at the recent Palomar College Gala are: Robert Wetsfall, CEO Solartube, Debbie King, assistant director Palomar College Foundation and Rick Cassoni, professor MiraCosta College. Photo by Frank Mangio

The selected wine was the well-known Paso Robles favorite, Robert Hall Winery.

This 1995-founded vineyard and winery favors wine with a South of France flavor, made in a 19,000 square foot cave with Don Brady as winemaker.  Right now it has a Meritage wine special on line for $36.  Wine Club members pay $24.

Check it out at roberthallwinery.com.

I might have saved the most interesting wine find for last, as I discovered a treasure trove of Sicilian wines at Il Fornaio in Coronado recently.

Mandy Martinez, the representative at American Wines, walked us through the new releases at Planeta, considered the largest of the many wineries that dot the Sicilian landscape.  Moscato is a well-known Italian sparkling wine and this one had it all going with its Noto Bianco finish.  But the one that Sicily is rapidly becoming famous for is the Nero di Avola, a deep dusted red, finished in the Mt. Aetna region.

Aetna is the most active volcano in Europe and yields the most rich of the Sicilian soils.  It richly enhanced the Il Fornaio Analletti Forno Spaghetti al Gamberetti, a pasta with baked Italian ham, peas, Bolognese sauce and Mozzarella.

See southernwine.com.

Coming soon to TASTE OF WINE, a three-part profile on the 2015 wine grape harvest.

Wine Bytes

The La Jolla Art & Wine Festival is Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Located on Girard St. between Prospect and Torrey Pines Road this free event has 150-juried artists, gourmet marketplace and wine and beer garden with over 40 wines including Coppola, Benziger and Baja wines.  Funds from the event go to local public schools.  For details, go to ljawf.org.

Harry’s Bar & American Grill has a Pahlmeyer wine dinner, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m.   Pahlmeyer is a Napa Valley choice winery.  Their red Bordeaux Blend 2013 is being matched with the Harry’s Beef Bourguignon.  $99. RSVP at (858) 373-1252.

Solare Restorante in Pt. Loma presents a four-course dinner with the Preston Parker wines of Paso Robles, Oct. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost is $79.  Wine founder Tucker Spear will present, with the wines named after his two sons, Preston and Parker. Partial profits go to the Williams Syndrome Association.  Niner wines will also have three wines for tasting. Call (619) 270-9670 for details and an RSVP.

Celebrating Art & Wine is the festival in Ramona, Nov. 7 at the Begent Ranch on Highland Valley Road from noon to 5 p.m. Sixteen area wines will be pouring their new releases.  Twenty-eight local artists will be selling their artwork. A live auction of painted wine barrels will liven things up.  Admission information by visiting ramonaartsandwinefest.net.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View and link up with his columns at tasteofwinetv.com, and reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.  Follow him on Facebook.

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